Boost The Flavor Of Baked Beans With A Few Drops Of Liquid Smoke

Baked beans are a rather delicious side dish — even in their simplest form because they offer a balance of sweet and tangy flavors. They work well with a variety of grilled meats and other side dishes like coleslaw and potato salad. But if you're bored with the classic version of baked beans, or need to upgrade the canned version, you can easily add other ingredients to boost the flavor. For example, if you appreciate a bit of smokiness in your food, add liquid smoke to your pot of baked beans.

Liquid smoke is a concentrate made from the smoke of burning wood, so it will give the baked beans a similar flavor to grilled or smoked meats that you might serve with them. Adding liquid smoke certainly works to improve canned baked beans, or you can add it to your favorite homemade recipe. Check out our recipe for slow cooker baked beans with molasses and bacon from Tasting Table recipe developer Erin Johnson if you need inspiration for making the beans from scratch, which can easily be infused with some liquid smoke.

Adding liquid smoke to baked beans

A little liquid smoke goes a long way in dishes, so it's important not to overdo it. You can add just a few small drops to the beans. And if you're a home cook who likes to follow precise measurements, ¼ teaspoon for every 30 ounces of baked beans should be sufficient, and you can always add more to taste. There are also many varieties of liquid smoke out there, so you can match the flavor profiles of your baked beans. Go with a jalapeno variety for spice, hickory for a traditional smoky flavor, mesquite for a milder taste, or pecan liquid smoke for a bit of nutty sweetness.

If you want to elevate the flavors of your baked beans more, we have some other ideas for add-ins to complement the liquid smoke. If you like smoky and sweet flavors, add some brown sugar to your baked beans, or use a canned variety flavored with brown sugar. Your recipe might call for dry or yellow mustard, but you can use spicy brown mustard for more kick or honey mustard to lean into the sweetness. As a final suggestion to boost the flavor of the baked beans with liquid smoke, add pieces of bacon or pancetta for umami to match the smokiness.